Updated  
July, 06 2013 12:00:00

Pottery museum in village near Ha Noi

There is a village near Ha Noi where people have been making beautiful pots and other works of art from clay for many, many years.

It is the village of Bat Trang.

A man from another village came to Bat Trang and decided that there should be a place where people could see the wonderful pottery of Bat Trang.

He was also worried that some of the special Bat Trang pottery was leaving Viet Nam.

So, he started a pottery museum where people could look at these works of art.

Antique haven: The first private museum in Bat Trang, with 600 items on display.
Antique haven: The first private museum in Bat Trang, with 600 items on display. - VNS Photo Doan Tung

 

Bat Trang Village has long been known as a place to buy quality pottery, but rarely have these works been exhibited for the public. A small museum offers a rare glimpse into this cultural tradition. Huyen Trang and An Vu report.

Arriving in Bat Trang pottery and porcelain village on the outskirts of Ha Noi, we encounter pottery collector Tran Ngoc Lam, who tells us about his private pottery museum called Van Van.

Opened in 2002, the museum is in a small house near the village, the entrance to which is a lane leading to Bat Trang central market. The house exterior is unremarkable and partly covered by liana creeper, so it can be difficult to find.

The interior is divided into four display sections. Three contain pottery from the 15th to 19th century while the other has 300 contemporary creations from Bat Trang Village.

"The ancient pottery zone contains 600 items on display. It's the first gallery ever in Viet Nam to showcase traditional pottery," says Lam.

Born in Ngoc Ha flower village, Lam was noted for his talent with flowers and says he would have preferred to be a gardener, even after graduating from Ha Noi Law University.

But things changed when Lam visited Bat Trang in 1998.

"I realised the village had a long history of pottery making but had not kept a record of it. A craft village should not only make the products, it should also have a cultural value, especially when it comes to tourism development," Lam says.

He set out on a new path as a collector, reading books, researching and seeking help from pottery experts, only to find that a lot of Bat Trang products had been taken to other countries.

He began collecting and after seven years of working in the field, he has an impressive accumulation of flower pots, lime-pots, ancient tobacco pipes and animal statues.

The development of cultural and social affairs through the centuries are clearly shown in each product. Ancient antiques from the 15th century are magnificent, including Van Van's oldest items: decorated bricks from the Tran dynasty (1225-1400).

There are also two 19th century dragon vases, which Lam was asked to sell to the National Museum of Vietnamese History.

"I turned down the request because I wanted the public to be able to see their beautiful enamel for free," Lam says.

Pham Quoc Quan, director of the National Museum of Vietnamese History, says the nation is grateful to Lam.

"Van Van is a worthy first private museum of Bat Trang and Ha Noi."

Dao Phan Long, editor-in-chief of Co Vat Tinh Hoa (Antique Quintessence) magazine, also has praise for Lam and says his museum needs to be expanded.

"I really appreciate this man's effort to collect and introduce the products of Bat Trang to the national and foreign community," Long says. "There are not many people in Viet Nam who are able to do that."

Meanwhile, Lam also wants the museum to aim at people who collect antiques.

"If any visitor has a real passion for objects here, we will consider exchanging them," he says.

"The museum has been open constantly and willingly for free entry. Sightseers can sit on the bamboo benches to view the collection and discuss pottery and porcelain to their hearts' content." — VNS

GLOSSARY

Bat Trang Village has long been known as a place to buy quality pottery, but rarely have these works been exhibited for the public.

Rarely means it does not happen very often.

Something that is exhibited is placed somewhere for everybody to see.

Arriving in Bat Trang pottery and porcelain village on the outskirts of Ha Noi, we encounter pottery collector Tran Ngoc Lam, who tells us about his private pottery museum called Van Van.

Porcelain is kind of pottery that looks a little glassy because of the way it has been carefully made.

The house exterior is unremarkable and partly covered by liana creeper, so it can be difficult to find.

The exterior of a house is the outside of the building. The inside would be called the interior.

Three contain pottery from the 15th to 19th century while the other has 300 contemporary creations from Bat Trang Village.

Contemporary creations are things, such as pottery in this case, that have been made in modern times rather than long ago.

Born in Ngoc Ha flower village, Lam was noted for his talent with flowers and says he would have preferred to be a gardener, even after graduating from Ha Noi Law University.

People who have talent have something special that makes it possible for them to do something well. In this case it's about somebody with a talent that makes him a good gardener.

He set out on a new path as a collector, reading books, researching and seeking help from pottery experts, only to find that a lot of Bat Trang products had been taken to other countries.

To research something means to read up and study something to get to know more about it. In this case it's about Lam getting to know more about pottery.

He began collecting and after seven years of working in the field, he has an impressive accumulation of flower pots, lime-pots, ancient tobacco pipes and animal statues.

An accumulation is a collection of something that has been gathered over a long time.

An impressive accumulation is one that looks really good.

Ancient antiques from the 15th century are magnificent, including Van Van's oldest items: decorated bricks from the Tran dynasty (1225-1400).

A dynasty is a line of people from the same family who rule a country, one after the other.

"I turned down the request because I wanted the public to be able to see their beautiful enamel for free," Lam says.

Enamel is a glassy layer that is put on top of hard surfaces. In this case the vases would have had enamel as a glassy coating.

Dao Phan Long, editor-in-chief of Co Vat Tinh Hoa (Antique Quintessence) magazine, also has praise for Lam and says his museum needs to be expanded.

An editor is the person who is the boss of a newspaper. Some newspapers have a boss in charge of all the other bosses. Such a person is an editor-in-chief.

WORKSHEET

State whether the following are true, or false.

1.       Tran Ngoc Lam came from a village where people worked more with flowers than with pottery.

2.       The Van Van Museum is in the middle of Ha Noi city.

3.       The Tran dynasty ruled around 700 years ago.

4.       Benches that people sit on at the Van Van Museum are made from bamboo.

5.       The Van Van Museum opened nine years ago.

ANSWERS:

This page has been developed in cooperation with Duncan Guy, founder and editor of Learn the News.


 

















1. True; 2. False; 3. True; 4. True; 5. True.


 


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